By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
The scoreboard operator at Warren Dell Stadium will likely earn his money when Garber hosts Waukomis at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the District B-1 opener for both teams.
The visiting Chiefs broke a nine-game losing streak last week with a 68-62 squeaker over Kremlin-Hillsdale — the most points by a WHS team since a 93-44 rout of Wetumka in 2005.
The homestanding Wolverines are coming off a 64-20 win over Waynoka in their opener. Garber, under new quarterback Dallas Hunt, ran for around 500 yards.
“We’re moving in the right direction,’’ said Waukomis head coach Jon Claborn. “This being the first district game makes it real important. We would like to get off to a good start and get that first B-1 win (WHS was 0-9 last year).’’
The Chiefs led 34-8 at halftime last week against the Broncs, “but didn’t do a good job of finishing,’’ Claborn said. Two of Kremlin-Hillsdale’s scores came on kickoff returns. Claborn joked he pulled a “Mack Brown’’ and fired himself as the special teams coach.
“That was a good lesson for us to learn about momentum,’’ Claborn said. “We could have put them away, but we let them back in the game. It was a positive we were able to outscore them and win the track meet.’’
Quarterback Justus Crites ran for three touchdowns and had touchdown passes to Chance Mullens and Aaron Harrington.
Tailback Gage McCartney scored three touchdowns and fullback Ryan Coontz had two.
Claborn said the numbers, more than anything, showed the development of the offensive line of center Adonis Pace, guards Jared Lawson and Quinn Newman and rotating tight ends Mullens, Harrington and Zach Prince.
“The offensive line has really improved from year one to year two,’’ Claborn said. “We started three freshmen there last year. It takes a long time for a lineman to develop mentally, learn the plays and how to do it with an attitude. They had to learn by fire last year.’’
Crites, a starter as a freshman, is beginning to show maturity as well.
“He’s learning he doesn’t have to do it all by himself,’’ Claborn said. “Sometimes, it’s better to take a sack than throw an interception. His passing is more accurate.’’
Crites is learning to deal with the pressures of the position as well.
“People may feel the quarterback gets all the glory,’’ said Claborn, a one-time quarterback himself, “but it’s not a fun position to play sometimes. You’re the one getting screamed at the most ... you’re the one getting the blame if things don’t go right. He carried himself at a different level.’’
Garber faced a different challenge at quarterback with Hunt moving from receiver to replace all-star Jordan Avants, who now is at East Central University.
Hunt ran the ball well, scoring two touchdowns, but Harmon wasn’t totally satisfied with the overall result.
“We had some bright spots and we have some things we need to work on,’’ he said. “We’re still moving kids around in the offensive line. We have a lot of work to do there. Our intensity level needs to improve.’’
Alex Monsees had two rushing touchdowns and a kick return for a score. Trent Harmon had one touchdown and Colby Canaday had two.
Garber did not have a pass completion, which coach Harmon said was the fault of the entire offense.
“I like the 500 yards rushing,’’ he said, “but I try to think of myself as new school. I want to spread the field and do a little bit of both.’’
Defensively, Harmon said the effort was good, but the consistency wasn’t.
“We have to get all eight kids to play every play,’’ Harmon said. “It’s not so much effort, but knowing what to do. The one thing our coaches have to do is to do a better job of teaching.’’
Harmon called the Chiefs “a much improved ballclub,’’ especially in the offensive line.
“You know coach Claborn will do a good job with them,’’ he said. “Last year is last year. We can’t take them lightly. This is a big game as far as the playoffs are concerned and getting ahead in the district.’’
Claborn said tradition is Garber’s biggest asset, noting the Wolverines have run Harmon’s system since they started playing organized football in the fifth grade. The Wolverines lead the series 27-11 and have won the last five meetings. Waukomis’ last win in the series was 38-14 in 2005.
“Tradition doesn’t graduate,’’ Claborn said. “They look like a machine on film. Their linebackers and cornerbacks do the same things they always do. It will take a great effort from us to make it a game.’’
But the Chiefs are going into the game more positive, thanks to improvement upfront.
“I think it could come down to the offensive and defensive lines,’’ Claborn said. “I feel we have three capable backs. If you give them a crease, all three of them are capable of going the distance.’’